U.S. heroes to be honored this week

Daily News Article   —   Posted on September 8, 2015

(by Victoria Cavaliere, Reuters) LOS ANGELES — Three young men who disarmed a suspected Islamist militant on a high-speed train in France will be honored with a parade in their hometown in California this week, officials said, as the last of the trio returned to the United States on Thursday.

The three friends, Anthony Sadler, 22, Spencer Stone, a 23-year-old U.S. airman, and Alek Skarlatos, 22, a National Guardsman, charged the gunman on a train headed to Paris from Amsterdam on Aug. 21, helping to wrestle away a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle.

The efforts of the three Americans, along with Briton Chris Norman, earned them France’s highest honor, the Legion d’honneur.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced on Thursday that a parade honoring the men, who grew up in the Sacramento area and attended middle and high school together, was set for Friday, Sept. 11.

“Our community has been anxiously awaiting the return of our three hometown heroes – Anthony, Alek and Spencer – so that we can celebrate and honor their incredible courage,” he said in a statement.

The parade will also honor the victims and first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, the mayor’s office said.

Stone, whose thumb was almost severed by the attacker in France, was the last of the three friends to return to the United States, arriving on Thursday after receiving medical treatment at a U.S. Army hospital in Germany.

Stone has also been credited with saving the life of another train passenger who had been shot and was bleeding profusely.

Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone were touring Europe, partly to celebrate Skarlatos’ return from duty in Afghanistan, when they noticed accused gunman Ayoub el Kazzani, [a 26-year-old Moroccan national.  They immediately took action, tackled him, took control and prevented him from killing anyone.] …

Air Force Secretary Deborah James said Stone’s unit was nominating him for the Air Force’s highest medal for non-combat bravery.

Skarlatos will receive the Soldiers Medal, the U.S. Army’s highest non-combat medal, Army officials said last week.

Sadler, a senior kinesiology major at Sacramento State University, was to be thanked for his actions by school president Robert S. Nelsen.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Thomson Reuters. Visit the website at Reuters .com.


The thwarting of the terrorist attack explained:

  • On August 21, in a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, Ayoub El-Kahzzani, exited the toilets on train car No. 12, shortly after the train had crossed the border from Belgium into France. He was shirtless and armed with an AKM assault rifle, for which he had nine magazines and a total of 270 rounds of ammunition. He was also carrying a bottle of [gasoline].
  • A 28-year-old Frenchman, only known as "Damien A.", was heading to the toilet as the armed gunman was exiting. Damien A. attempted to restrain or disarm the gunman but in the ensuing struggle lost his balance and fell to the floor.
  • An American-born Frenchman, 51-year-old Mark Moogalian, then attempted to wrest the rifle from the gunman, who then drew an automatic 9mm Luger pistol. Moogalian was shot through the back of the neck; seriously injured, he played dead. Another bullet grazed the train's conductor. The assailant also tried to shoot his rifle, but it jammed.
  • The gunman was then tackled and subdued by a group of three American friends Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. Sadler told CNN that when the gunman opened fire, Skarlatos yelled "Get him!" after which "Spencer immediately gets up to charge the guy, followed by Alek, then myself." In an interview with Sky News, Skarlatos added that they had been lucky that the attacker's rifle had jammed.
  • Stone was reportedly the first one to attack the gunman and was slashed multiple times while trying to subdue him, sustaining injuries to the head and neck. Stone put him in the chokehold, holding on though the assailant was cutting him with a box cutter, nearly severing his thumb. Skarlatos seized the assailant's rifle and beat him in the head with the muzzle of it until he was unconscious. A British passenger, 62-year-old Chris Norman, and an unidentified Frenchman assisted in holding the gunman down. They used Norman's T-shirt to tie his arms behind his back.
  • The passengers then helped Moogalian, who was losing a lot of blood through the gunshot wound in his neck. Stone, who is a medic, initially tried to wrap his shirt around the wound, despite having an injured hand and cut eye himself. However, he realized it was not going to work and instead stuck two of his fingers into Moogalian's wound and pushed down on what he thought was an artery, which stopped the bleeding.
  • A video made with a cellphone shows the alleged perpetrator immobile, lying hogtied on the floor of the train, and blood visible on the windows and seats.
  • The train, which was carrying 554 passengers, was passing Oignies in the Pas-de-Calais department, when the attack took place. It was rerouted to the station of nearby Arras. Moogalian was airlifted to the University Hospital in Lille, while Stone was later treated for wounds on his thumb, an eye injury, and other minor wounds. (from Wikipedia)


From a news report at London's Daily Telegraph on Aug. 24:

An American-French citizen has been identified as one of the passengers who acted to halt the attack on a Paris-bound train on August 21.

Mark Moogalian, 51, an American-born professor at the Sorbonne, noticed something odd about the way a young man had brought a suitcase into the bathroom of the train, and when the man exited with a Kalashnikov, the academic was one of the first of several people to halt what could have been a deadly attack. A number of people were injured and the alleged gunman is being questioned by investigators. Moogalian was shot attempting to tackle the gunman, his wife said.

At a ceremony on Monday, French president François Hollande presented three Americans and a Briton with France’s highest honor for subduing the gunman, while Moogalian was being treated in Lille for the injuries he sustained during the attack.

He is expected to recover and will receive the Légion d’honneur later. A young French banker who also intervened has asked for anonymity and will also be presented with the award, but at a private ceremony.

Moogalian’s wife Isabella Risacher-Moogalian was on board the train, which was carrying more than 500 passengers. She told Europe1 that her husband was suspicious of the amount of time the gunman had spent in the bathroom and rushed him when he came out, armed with a gun.

“I did not see my husband get shot; it happened too quickly and I was pretty much hiding behind seats,’ Risacher-Moogalian said. “But I look at my husband through the seats at an angle and he looked straight at me and said, ‘I’m hit!’ ...

“There was blood everywhere. I ran towards him and I could see that he had a wound on his back. I then saw another wound by his neck.”

Spencer Stone, an off-duty soldier American soldier who helped stop the gunman, tended to Moogalian with first aid after he and two of his American friends tackled el-Khazzani. British IT consultant, Chris Norman, 62, helped restrain the gunman with his necktie.

“He [Stone] put his finger on the wound in the middle of his [Mooglian’s] neck and he stayed in that position for the whole journey until we got to Arras so I think he really saved my husband’s life,” Risacher-Moogalian told BFM TV.